SAN DIEGO – Just as they have all year, they put up a tremendous effort to give themselves a chance for a victory on Sunday night.
It’s allowed them the stay competitive despite a number of injuries, and absences, along with dealing with major changes on and off the field. That’s how the club was able to squeeze into the playoffs for a seventh-straight season thanks to a 9-7-6 record.
They compete with the same intensity against San Diego Wave FC in their NWSL playoff quarterfinal match late Sunday evening. They grabbed an early lead, then held their hosts to just one goal despite a consistent offensive attack again them.
But this effort wouldn’t be enough to keep the club’s hopes of their first league championship alive in 2022.
Alex Morgan’s goal 20 minutes into extra time gave the Wave a 2-1 victory to end the Red Stars season. It came after the clubs were deadlocked for over 40 minutes where neither team was willing to give in.
But Morgan’s shot got past Alyssa Naeher for the goal with ten minutes to go, and the Red Stars didn’t have an answer, as their season comes to an end two steps short of a title.
It was the conclusion of a competitive match where the Red Stars struck first when Yuki Nagasato stole a short pass from San Diego goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan and put it in the net to make it 1-0. The Wave had a number of chances to get an equalizer late in the first half but Naeher and the defense held them off.
Emily Van Egmond would get the Wave on the board in the 67th minute and Morgan’s goal in extra time sent San Diego to the semifinals.
Now the Red Stars enter the offseason where change will be inevitable with owner Arnim Whisler off the board of directors after the release of the Yates Report, which was critical of his handling of abuse allegations against former manager Rory Dames. Like usual, roster changes will be coming as well as manager Chris Petrucelli enters his second year with the club.
But the 2022 campaign will be remembered for the way the club worked through a number of obstacles to keep a postseason streak alive, even if the stay in the postseason was shorter than they would have liked.